Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Sunday that Russia’s war on his country is far from over, and the world should be vigilant against the possible use of nuclear and chemical weapons by Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“All over the world, all the countries have to be worried,” Zelenskyy told CNN’s “State of the Union,” highlighting a string of Easter Sunday interviews devoted mostly to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Zelenskyy said he would welcome a visit to Ukraine by President Joe Biden and said he hopes the president will continue to provide aid to his embattled nation.
The future of the war, he said, could hinge on how well Ukraine resists a new Russian offensive in the eastern part of his country.
“It can influence the course of the whole war,” Zelenskyy told CNN, “because I don’t trust the Russian military and Russian leadership.”
In that eastern region, Mariupol has not surrendered to the Russians, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Sunday. He spoke on ABC News’ “This Week” hours after a Russian-set 6 a.m. deadline for surrender in the besieged city. Shmyhal said only Kherson had fallen to Russian control.
Zelenskyy said Saturday that the situation in Mariupol is “inhuman” after six weeks of holding out against relentless Russian forces.
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►Italy is barring all Russian ships from its ports starting Sunday as part of expanded EU sanctions announced earlier this month. Ships already in Italian ports must leave immediately “after completing their commercial activity,″ according to a notice sent to port authorities throughout the country.
►Russian forces shelled an oil refinery in the Ukrainian city of Lysychansk on Saturday, and a large fire erupted, a regional governor reported.
► U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and 12 other British officials are banned from entering Russia, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Saturday, citing “unprecedented hostile actions” by Britain’s government.
Ukraine foriegn minister: Mariupol is surrounded
WASHINGTON – Ukraine’s foreign minister is describing the situation in Mariupol as dire and heartbreaking and says Russia’s continued attacks there could be a “red line” that ends all efforts to reach peace through negotiation.
Dmytro Kuleba tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the remaining Ukrainian military personnel and civilians in the port city are basically encircled by Russian forces.
He says the Ukrainians “continue their struggle” but that the city effectively doesn’t exist anymore because of massive destruction.
Kuleba says his country has been keeping up “expert level” talks with Russia in recent weeks in hopes of reaching a political solution for peace. But citing the significance of Mariupol, he echoed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in saying the elimination of Ukrainian forces there could be a “red line” that stops peace efforts.
– Associated Press
‘Let’s drink to Ukraine!’: Passover marked in wartime Ukraine
ODESA, Ukraine – They traveled to the historic hotel along the Black Sea through checkpoints and a darkened side entrance. Inside, the opulent lobby lights were off and drapes were drawn. On a small entry table sat four stacks of matzah.
Welcome to Passover during wartime in this Ukrainian port city, where the city’s remaining Jewish population is celebrating freedom over tyranny even as their community has been scattered, again, across Europe and the world, for the second time in the last century due to war.
The crowd is determined to be festive, even as air sirens wail. A man rises and exhorts the gathering: “Let’s drink to life! Let’s drink to Passover!” He ends with “Let’s drink to Ukraine!”
Passover in Ukraine: Jewish community comes together despite war
In Odesa, Ukraine, celebrating Passover during wartime means gathering at the local Chabad synagogue for Seder ahead of the citywide 9 p.m. curfew.
Sandy Hooper, USA TODAY
Read more here about Passover in Ukraine, home to one of the largest Jewish communities in post-Soviet Eastern Europe.
– Tami Abdollah
War’s environmental threat
While Chernobyl and its safety comes to mind quickly with worries about things threatened by war in Ukraine, radiation is far from the only environmental problem facing the country as it approaches a third month of war.
The Russian invasion threatens environmentally fragile sites throughout the nation, which served as an industrial center dating back to the Soviet Union.
The Pridniprovskiy Chemical Plant outside Dnipro, a riverport town of nearly a million people, once produced half the yellowcake uranium used in the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal, Hook said. Mostly abandoned, the site contains 40 million tons of radioactive waste – 15 times more than what remains in Chernobyl.
“The concern here is that a large quantity of waste could spill into the Dnipro waterway and down into the Black Sea,” Hook said, putting the entire European continent at risk.
Read more about environmental threats here.
McCarthy declines to criticize 63 House Republicans who voted against NATO resolution
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy declined Sunday to attack 63 GOP colleagues who voted against a resolution expressing support for NATO, saying the party as a whole backs the U.S.-European military alliance.
“There’s a strong support for NATO moving forward,” McCarthy said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Always has been.”
Last week, the House by a vote of 362-63 approved a nonbinding resolution to reaffirm “its unequivocal support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as an alliance founded on democratic principles.”
All 63 no votes came from Republicans.
For years, some GOP members – most notably President Donald Trump – have said that NATO takes advantage of the United States, and that too many NATO allies are not contributing enough money for mutual defense.
Democrats noted that Trump and some other Republicans have also expressed support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, even after his invasion of Ukraine.
After the House vote, Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., tweeted that “the gop truly is Putin’s Party.”
McCarthy told Fox that Republicans support their European partners, but “the one thing we need to make sure” is that “these NATO countries spend the money” that is necessary.
– David Jackson
Zelenskyy: I’d like Joe Biden to visit Ukraine
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday that he would like to see U.S. counterpart Joe Biden visit Ukraine – and bring more American military aid with him.
“I think he’s the leader of the United States and that’s why he should come here to see” the damage wrought by the Russian invasion, Zelenskyy said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Zelenskyy also expressed appreciation for the new $800 million American assistance package, bringing the total amount of U.S. aid to Ukraine to $2.5 billion.
He added that “of course we need more,” but acknowledged that “there will never be enough – enough isn’t possible.”
White House officials have not discussed the possibility of a Biden visit to Ukraine, a trip that – if it happens – would be planned under heavy security and secrecy.
– David Jackson
Putin to Italian leader: Time isn’t right to meet Zelenskyy
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi the time was not yet right to talk with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Italian news outlet Courier Della Sera reported on Sunday.
The Italian premier said he asked Putin in a recent call to declare a cease-fire. Just days later came the discovery of atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine, where civilians were found dead in the streets.
Draghi agreed with President Joe Biden’s assessment that what has happened in Ukraine included war crimes.
“What do we want to call Bucha’s horror if not war crimes? But I understand that terms like “genocide” or “war crimes” have a precise legal meaning. There will be a way and time to check which words best fit the inhuman acts of the Russian army,” Draghi said, according to the website’s English translation.
– Katie Wadington
What is a war crime?: Biden calls Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a ‘genocide.’ Is it a war crime?
Prime minister says Ukraine will not surrender
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Mariupol is a “humanitarian catastrophe,” with a hundred civilians there without water, food, heat or electricity.
Russia said fighters in the city had until 6 a.m. Moscow time on Sunday to lay down their arms. Shmyhal said some of city remains under Ukrainian control.
Shmyhal said over 900 “cities and towns and villages” in Ukraine are no longer occupied by Russian forces, with the fight having moved to the Donbas region.
“We do not have intention to surrender,” Shmyhal said, adding that if Russia isn’t ready to return to the negotiating table, “we will not leave our families, our country, so we will fight absolutely (until) the end.”
While the U.S. has given billions in aid to Ukraine, the prime minister said the country still needs financial support because “only half of our economy is working.”
– Katie Wadington
Why May 9 is important: Russia’s Victory Day on May 9 could mark key deadline in its invasion of Ukraine
Zelenskyy: The world should be worried about Russia nukes
The embattled president of Ukraine said in a Sunday interview that neither he nor the world can discount the possibility that Russia might use a tactical nuclear weapon as part of its invasion.
“They could do it,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
He noted that “nobody expected” Russia and President Vladimir Putin to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine – but it happened.
Ukraine should not be the only nation concerned about a Russian nuclear attack, Zelenskyy said, and “other countries” all over the world “have to be worried.”
He voiced similar concerns about chemical weapons, and also voiced worry about chemical weapons.
People should not “be afraid” of a possible nuke, the Ukrainian leader told CNN, but all should “be ready.”
– David Jackson
‘Nuclear terrorism’: Radiation isn’t Ukraine’s only environmental threat as war with Russia continues
Anglican archbishop calls for cease-fire as Orthodox Holy Week begins
LONDON – In his Easter sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has called for Russia to declare a cease-fire and withdraw in Ukraine.
The leader of the Anglican church said Easter is a time for peace and not “blood and iron.”
Noting that in the Eastern Orthodox church followed by many in Russia and Ukraine Sunday marks the start of Holy Week – the week leading to Easter – he said ”let this be a time for Russian cease-fire, withdrawal and a commitment to talks.”
– Associated Press
Pope’s Easter message focuses on globe’s armed conflicts
VATICAN CITY – In an Easter Sunday message aimed at the world but heavily focused on Ukraine, Pope Francis raised two worries – the risk of nuclear warfare and that other armed conflicts on the globe will go unnoticed.
In a speech from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope quoted a declaration from scientists in the 1950s in which they posed the question: “Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war?”
The pope has repeatedly made anguished pleas for a cease-fire and negotiations to end the war in Ukraine. In his Easter message, Francis lamented that “so many of our brothers and sisters have had to lock themselves away in order to be safe from bombing.”
He expressed hope that the war in Europe will “also make us more concerned about other situations of conflict, suffering and sorrow” in situations “that we cannot overlook and do not want to forget.” Among the places he cited were Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. He singled out Yemen, suffering from a conflict “forgotten by all, with continuous victims.”
– Associated Press
Austrian leader: Putin ‘thinks he is winning the war’
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer met with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, the first EU leader to do so since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
Nehammer, who visited Ukraine and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ahead of the Moscow trip, told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” in an interview broadcast on Sunday that it was a “frank and tough” conversation including discussion of “war crimes” Nehammer said he witnessed in Bucha, Ukraine.
The Austrian leader related that Putin said he “would cooperate with an international investigation, on one hand, and on the other hand, he told me that he doesn’t trust the western world.”
“So it was a tough discussion between each other. But I tried to convince him that, for example, the former Yugoslavian war showed us that international investigation is useful to prosecute the war criminals,” Nehammer said.
Nehammer, who said his country is now home to 58,000 Ukrainian refugees, said Putin uses “his own war logic” but understands “what is going on in Ukraine” and “believes he is winning the war.”
– Katie Wadington